Getting More Customers – Using Trade Shows

Getting More Customers – Using Trade Shows

Trade shows offer a good opportunity to showcase your products or services in person to prospective customers.  They are generally designed to facilitate interactions between vendors and the events’ attendees.

The first step in using trade shows is to identify potential trade shows that you might want to be an exhibitor at.  Then you need to evaluate the benefits for each show.  If you have previously attended the trade show, you already know how crowded it was, the number of attendees, and which type of people attended. What was the vibe?  If you have not attended before, read reviews and reach out to previous attendees if you can and ask for their input.

The next step is to determine what you want to get out of the show.  Are you just going to get leads or close some big deal that is in the works?  Are you trying to look for potential partners to work with, get good press or something else?  How does it fit into your goals?  Speaking of goals, you should write them down.  What types of interactions will help you achieve your goals?  Do you need big blocks of time in an intimate setting to ply your wares or just identify lots of potential customers?  Does the event meet your needs?

Then you can prioritize the events and compare the events in terms of timing (your availability and how it fits into an annual calendar), cost, effort, resources needed, etc.   How does all of this fit with your budget?  It won’t take too long to figure out how to create the schedule.

For each trade show, you need to prepare.  You want to get the attendee list in advance and identify who you want to meet with.  You can then try to reach out to them and arrange some event to meet at.  You can sponsor an event and invite them to it.  Your event can be a private dinner somewhere or a hospitality suite.  If it is more of a private event, you want to have a good mix of prospective customers, reference-able existing customers and people from you company.  This can include product development people, product management and sales people.  Prospective customers always want to talk with existing customers and get their feedback.

For your booth, you need to determine if you need a high traffic area (to get lots of leads) or a low traffic are that you expect to draw specific types of prospects to.  You want to have an impressive display to make a good impression.  You should have a big banner, sales materials, business cards and a compelling demo and/or some product people from your company that know your product or service inside and out.  The more engaging your display, the longer people will stay around to get hooked to go to the next step.

You can use some kind of incentive or give away to attract people to your booth. You can give away bags to hold all the stuff people collect and have people hand them out where people are entering the show. Besides your name and some enticement, the bag should have your booth number.  You want to have a call to action.  So consider using trade shows as part of your marketing strategy and your marketing plan.

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